General Release 2006
145 minutes approx
Boxer Santaro -
Krysta Now -
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Roland Tavernier -
Seann William Scott
Pilot Abilene -
Bart Bookman -
Nana Mae Frost -
Baron Von Westphalen -
Walter Mung -
Directed by -
Written by -
First came the terrorist nuclear attacks on America. That led to World War 3. The US annexed the internet and established USIdent to both control and exploit cyberspace. This repression has led to the rise of the neo-marxist underground fighting against this. The presidential election is to be decided by the votes in California alone.
Critical to the outcome of this election is Boxer Santaro, an action movie star and son-in-law of one of the candidates. He disappeared and then walked out of the desert to form a relationship with porn star Krysta Now. Together they have written a screenplay that is an accurate prediction of the end of the world.
That end will be brought about by an LA cop, an artificial energy source, a rift in time/space, a mega zeppelin and an ice cream truck.
SOUTHLAND TALES is the difficult second film from Richard Kelly, whose DONNIE DARKO was a time-warping, mind-bending wonder. It was boo-ed at Cannes when first released (ironic considering some of the things they don't boo at Cannes) and then was completely recut before finally being released on a wave of confused critical derision. It's easy to understand the reaction to the film - much easier than understanding the film itself. What it is (or what we think and hope it is) is a satire on the state of the world and specifically the USA using an exaggerated alternative future. Unfortunately, the tone seesaws all over the place. One minute it's a drama, another minute action and then straight on into a completely pointless musical number.
Certainly most of the actors are taking it as a pantomime role, overplaying their parts until they are caricature, reaching the pinnacle (nadir) with Shawn Wallace's patently absurd Baron Von Westphalen. Dwayne Johnson (aka the Rock) has the physical presence at the centre of the film to anchor it, but the rest of the plots whirl around all about him. Sarah Michelle Gellar's porn star-chat sow host is completely unconvincing as is Miranda Richardson's surveillance queen or Christophe Lambert's arms dealer or Jon Lovitt's psycho cop. Only Seann William Scott seems determined to give a believable performance in the midst of all the madness and thus he is the one person to come out of it with his reputation intact.
SOUTHLAND TALES, though is not the train wreck that its reputation would have you believe. Sure it is horribly muddled (requiring a narration that actually tells you what is going on) at times, but that's from a combination of too many ideas, too much ambition and a total lack of self-discipline. We'd much rather see a film fail for too many ideas than too few. We'd much rather watch this than AEON FLUX.
The epic scale with the multi-character jigsaw puzzled plot (PULP FICTION has a lanswer for) is fascinating to unravel and does make some sort of sense finally, but goes down too many blind side alleys along the way. The eclectic performances also have the same pull as that of a car crash as you drive by.
The end result is a film that is definitely worth a look, though we sincerely doubt many people will be returning for a second.Top
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